vCloud Director SP 8.20 – NSX Advanced Networking Overview
Many, including myself thought that the day would never come where we would be talking about a new UI for vCloud Director…but a a month on from the 8.20 release of vCloud Director SP (which was the 8th major release of vCD) I’m happy to be writing about the new Advanced Networking features of 8.20 based on NSX-v. Full NSX compatibility and interoperability has been a long time coming, however the wait has been worthwhile as the vCloud Director team opted to fully integrate the network management into the vCD Cloud Cells over the initial approach that had a seperate appliance acting as a proxy between the NSX Manager and vCD Cells.
But before I dive into the new HTML5 goodness, I thought it would be good to recap the Advanced Networking Services of vCD and how we got to where we are today…
No More vShield…Sort Of:
As everyone should know by now, the vCloud Networking & Security was made end of life late last year and from the release of vCD SP 8.10 vShield Edges should have been upgraded to their NSX equivalents. These Edges will remain as basic Edges within vCloud Director and even though at the backend they would be on NSX-v versioning, no extra features or functionality beyond what was available in the existing vCD portal would be available to tenants.
- Static Routing
- IPSec VPN
- Basic Load Balancer
The version of NSX-v deployed dictates the build number of the NSX Edge, however as can be seen below it’s still listed as a vShield Edge in vCenter.
As anyone who has worked closely would know, NSX-v has a lot of vShield DNA in it and in truth it’s more vShield than NSX when talking about the features that pertain to vCloud Director. However the power of NSX-v can be taken advantage of once an basic edge is upgraded to an Advanced Edge.
Advanced Edge Services:
Before the major UI additions that came with vCD SP 8.20 the previous 8.10 version did give us a taste of what was to come with the introduction of a new menu option when you right clicked on an Edge Gateway.
This option was greyed out unless you where running the initial beta of the Advanced Networking Services or ANS. The option can be executed by anyone with the rights to upgrade the edge gateway, but by default this can only be done by a System Administrator or the Org Admin. So it’s worthwhile double checking the roles you have allocated to your tenant’s to ensure that these upgrades can be controlled.
Once you click on the Convert to Advanced Gateway option you get a warning referring to a VMwareKB that warns you about an API change that may make previous calling methods obsolete. Something to take note of for anyone automating this process. On execution of this conversion there is no physical change to the Virtual Machine, however if you now click on the Edge Gateway Services option of the Edge Gateway you will be taken to the new HTML5 Web Interface for NSX Advanced Networking Services to access all the advanced features:
- Routing (Dynamic)
- Load Balancer (Advanced)
- SSL VPN Plus
- Grouping Objects
- Edge Settings
All new Advanced Networking features are configured from the new HTML5 web interface which retains the base vCD URL but now adds:
Everything is self contained the tenant doesn’t have to authenticate again to get to the new user interface. However, if you just upgrade the Edge and go to configure the Advanced Network Services out of the box you will only see a couple of the items listed above.
In order to use the new features a System Administrator must use the vCloud API to grant the new rights that the organisation requires. This process has been explained very well by my good friend Giuliano Bertello here. This process uses the vCloud API to Grant Distributed Firewall and Advanced Networking Services Rights to roles in vCloud Director 8.20 using the new granular role based access control mechanisms that where introduced in 8.20. Once configured your tenant’s can now see all the services listed above to configure the Edge Gateway.
Organisational Distributed Firewall:
Something that is very much new in the 8.20 release is the ability to take advantage of mircosegmentation using the NSX-v Distributed Firewall service. The ability to configure organisation wide rules logically, without the need for a virtual Edge Gateway is a significant step forward for vCD tenants and I hope that this feature enhancement is exposed by service providers and it’s value sold to their tenants. To access the Distributed Firewall, in the Virtual Datacenters windows of the Administration tab, right click on the Virtual Datacenter name and select Manage Firewall.
Once again you will be taken to the new HTML5 user interface and once the correct permissions have been applied to the user you can enable the Distributed Firewall and start configuring your rules. The URL is slightly different to the Edge Gateway URL:
But the look and feel is familiar.
vCloud Director SP 8.20 has finally delivered on the what most members of the vCloud Air Network had wanted for some time…that is, full NSX interoperability and feature set access as well as a new user interface. Over the next few weeks, I am going to expand on all the features of the Advanced and Distributed Networking features of vCD and NSX and walk through how to configure elements through the UI and API as well as give a looks into what’s happening at the backend in terms of how NSX stores rules and policy items for vCD tenant use.
Compatibility with vSphere 6.5 and NSX-v 6.3.x:
vCloud Director SP 8.20 is compatible with vSphere 6.5 and NSX 6.3.0 and supports full interoperability with other versions as shown in the VMware Product Interoperability Matrix. As of vCD 8.20 GA, vCD 8.20 passed the functional interoperability test and limited scale testing for these versions:
- vCD 8.20 with vSphere 6.0 and NSX 6.3.0
- vCD 8.20 with vSphere 6.5 and NSX 6.3.0